‘Ripley’ 2024 Ending Explained: Did Tom Become Timothy Fanshaw?

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Ripley is yet another adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel series The Talented Mr. Ripley. The previous film adaptation was met with much praise. Only one of the many adaptations of the many books in the series has made such a big name in the world for its sympathetic take on the apparently queer character meant to be living in the 1960s. The show takes a more authentic (for lack of a better word) approach to adapting the story. Ripley tells the story of Thomas Ripley, a con artist, who is one day approached by a man to find his son for him and persuade him to return to the US. Ripley seizes the opportunity in seconds: a trip to sunny Italy, money for vacation, and the simple job of speaking to a rich man. I don’t think Tom ever actually had the intention of doing what Dickie’s father wanted of him; he had other, much bigger plans for himself.

Spoiler Alert

When Ripley reaches Atrani, a small seaside town in Italy, he’s immediately drawn to Dickie’s perfect lifestyle. He’s got it all—the money, a girl, and the carefree nature to do whatever he likes with no regrets or fears. This is what Tom’s been looking for all his life. It’s never clear why Dickie would hang out with Tom when he clearly doesn’t like him and believes he’s queer (the show is set in the 1960s, so apprehension is expected). This gets Dickie killed, and the rest of the show is about how Tom lives the double life, narrowly escaping the Italian police with his two passports, all of Dickie’s things, and the greed to live as another man with no guilt. At the end of the show, Mr. Greenleaf hires the same private detective who found Tom the first time to find him again in order to figure out what really happened with Dickie. 


What Will Happen to Marge? 

It’s clear right off the bat that Marge doesn’t like Ripley. She finds him despicable, and she thinks he’s gay, which means he’s trying to steal Dickie away from her. By the end of the show, Marge gives up on Dickie because she receives some letters in his name, all written, of course, by Tom himself. These letters make Marge believe that Dickie is in love with Tom, and so he’s decided to go into hiding without letting anyone know his whereabouts. See, I think Tom and Marge aren’t very different from each other. Yeah, one is a psychopath, and the other is just an ambitious woman (kind of like Amy from Gerwig’s Little Woman). I only say this because, in the end, Marge uses the infamy of Dickie’s case to draw attention to her book. I mean, it’s only fair; he used her for a year and then left her with nothing. The least she can do is use his name for some fame, no? At a party Tom is invited to, Marge talks to strangers about her book, and all they’re really interested in knowing is if it’s about Dickie and her. She says it’s not, but that her next book will be. I think Marge will continue to write and even become a famous author. She even hilariously sends Ravini a copy of the book, which will possibly start a new line of events to catch Tom for real. 


What Does Mr. Greenleaf Think Happened to Dickie? 

At the end of the show, the elaborate plan Tom made makes it look like Dickie killed himself out of guilt for being in love with Tom (huh, the irony). Tom conveniently told Marge that Dickie gave him his ring to keep it safe, but Marge takes it as a sign that Dickie knew he wasn’t coming back. The private detective gets the letter “Richard” sent his landlady (who clearly liked him dearly), which reads like a depressed man’s goodbye, convincing Mr. Greenleaf that Dickie was unhappy and took his own life. Ultimately, Tom shamelessly takes Dickie’s ring from Mr. Greenleaf, too, because apparently, Dickie would’ve wanted him to have it (yikes). 


Why Does Tom Change His Identity? 

It was only a matter of time before Ravini would find a picture of the real Dickie, and everything would fall apart for Tom. When Marge sends Ravini her book, Ravini is completely blindsided. He is shocked by the mistakes he’s made. The man he’d been thinking was Richard this whole time was actually Tom, which is probably why he didn’t like him very much. However, Tom is ahead of the curve and has seen this coming, so when he finds a fellow con artist (played by a goateed John Malkovich), he asks him to bring him a new British passport in the name of T. Fanshaw. Though it may seem that it’s a last-minute idea, it’s been in the works for months. Tom has bought the house in Venice in Fanshaw’s name. He’s learned from his mistakes. Freddie found Greenleaf through the telephone book, so Tom’s possibly listing it under Fanshaw as well. Ultimately, Dickie’s beloved Picasso painting reaches Tom under the name Fanshaw. The timing is perfect, and the passport is in his hands, too. Now, nothing, or nobody, can find him. But here’s hoping Ravini does. 

During Ripley series’ ending, Tom looks at his Picasso, just as Caravaggio stared at his painting of Madonna and the child with the serpent back in 1606 after killing a man. The parallels are uncanny as Tom puts down a glass of wine next to his glass ashtray—a memento, just like Caravaggio’s bloody dagger. Tom may be looking at a work of Picasso, but it’s his “art” that brought him there, so it’s simply a sign of his success. The final episode is aptly titled Narcissus because Tom is so confident in himself that he brazenly lies to Mr. Greenleaf in the face with no remorse. He knows at this point that he has won, and there’s no going back to Ripley or Greenleaf for him. He’s, what do you call it, “turned over a new leaf.” I suppose at the end of the show, you can’t help but feel like you’ve succeeded with Tom despite finding him despicable throughout the series. Is it Stockholm syndrome? I don’t know. But the show manages to get you to rejoice in Tom’s victory, though it comes at the cost of many. Maybe it’s because those people are just as detestable? 


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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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